• France edition
 
JEWISH SCHOOL SHOOTING
Police link scooter to three shootings
BFM TV screenshot

Police link scooter to three shootings

Published: 19 Mar 2012 17:38 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Mar 2012 17:38 GMT+01:00

The same stolen scooter was used in three deadly shooting incidents in eight days in France, a police source said Monday after three children and a teacher were killed at a Jewish school.

Police have also said the same gun was used in the attacks, drawing a clear link between the school shootings and the murder of three soldiers that have shocked France.

The shooting, which was immediately branded as an anti-Semitic attack, plunged the nation into shock.

President Nicolas Sarkozy declared the murders a "national tragedy" as anti-terror police probed the third fatal shooting involving a gunmen wielding what police said was the same pistol in the Toulouse area in recent days.

France stepped up security at Jewish and Muslim schools following the assault on the Ozar Hatorah school, which local parents, rights groups and the government denounced as an anti-Semitic atrocity.

Two boys aged three and six and their father, a 30-year-old religious studies teacher who witnesses said tried to protect them, were gunned down, along with the 10-year-old daughter of the director of the school.

The gunman opened fire on a crowd as children and teachers arrived for class in the morning, then charged on to school grounds. A fifth victim, a 17-year-old boy, was left in a critical condition.

The killer escaped on what witnesses said was a powerful scooter. 

Last week, three French paratroopers – all of North African descent – were killed in two similar incidents in the same region, also involving a scooter-rider wielding the same powerful .45 calibre handgun.

"This tragedy has left the entire national community distraught," Sarkozy declared at the scene, his voice audibly cracking as he sent condolences to the Jewish community and the mother who lost a husband and two children.

He said a moment of silence would be observed Tuesday in all French schools, security would be stepped up around religious establishments in the region and police reinforcements be deployed to hunt down the gunman.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as a "despicable murder of Jews" saying it could not be ruled out that it was "motivated by violent and murderous anti-Semitism".

The attack was the first of its kind apparently targeting Jews since the Rue des Rosiers massacre in 1982, in which six people died in a shooting at a restaurant in Paris's most famous Jewish district.

Campaigning in France's presidential election was effectively suspended, while both the right-wing incumbent Sarkozy and his Socialist rival Francois Hollande rushed to Toulouse to pay their respects.

"We cannot back down in the face of terror," Sarkozy said, vowing his interior minister would stay in Toulouse until the crime was solved.

"And of course our thoughts are with these shattered families, with this mother who at the same moment lost her children and her husband, with the director of the school who saw his daughter die before his eyes.

"Barbarism, savagery, cruelty cannot win. Hate cannot win. The Republic is too strong for that, much too strong," he said.

The president said that while the inquiry was proceeding with caution, he had been struck by the apparent links between the three shootings. 

Paris anti-terrorist prosecutors took charge of all three probes.

The Ozar Hatorah association runs a small religious school for 200 people in a quiet suburb of Toulouse, a large city with a 25,000-strong Jewish minority.

Local prosecutor Michel Valet said: "Shortly before eight o'clock (0700 GMT) a man on a powerful scooter or a motorbike dismounted and shot at everything he could see. At children as well as adults.

"This individual also chased some children into the school," he said.  

Distraught and often angry parents – denouncing what many saw as an obvious anti-Semitic attack – converged on the scene shortly after the shooting as frightened children were brought out in small groups.

"I came to the school this morning for prayers," said six-year-old Alexia.

"Five minutes later we heard shots, and we were very afraid. We were gathered in a room and prayed together while we waited for our parents."

The gunman initially used a nine-millimetre weapon but it jammed so he switched to a .45-calibre gun as he stormed the school, police said.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant ordered security to be tightened around all religious buildings in France, which has Europe's largest Jewish community estimated at up to 700,000 people.

"Like all my fellow countrymen, I am overwhelmed with emotion after this grave event, an act of anti-Semitism against Jewish children," Gueant said.

The first victim in the trio of shootings died on March 11, a 30-year-old non-commissioned officer who was in civilian clothes when he was shot dead in Toulouse at point blank range.

On Thursday three more paratroopers, based this time in nearby Montauban, were shot while standing at a cash machine outside their barracks.

Two victims – sappers from 17th Parachute Engineering Regiment aged 26 and 24 – died on the spot. The third man, a 28-year-old from the same regiment, was left in a critical condition with spinal injuries.

Witnesses saw a black-clad motorcyclist walk up to the men, who were in uniform but unarmed, and open fire at point blank range.

The killer had time to turn over one of the wounded who was trying to crawl away and fire three more shots into him before getting back on the scooter and making his escape.

The military ordered troops based in the region not to wear their uniforms outside barracks following the attacks.

 

Today's headlines
Vigilantes held as clown panic spreads in France
It's no joke. Clown panic is spreading across France. Photo: Shutterstock

Vigilantes held as clown panic spreads in France

Police arrested five armed youths in a town in eastern France this week who were hunting for “aggressive clowns” who were reportedly threatening locals. It’s just the latest incident in France where reports of armed clowns has spread panic. READ  

Mother has four limbs removed after abortion
A French mum had to have four limbs amputated due to complications following an abortion. Photo: Shutterstock

Mother has four limbs removed after abortion

A woman who had an abortion in Bordeaux is suing the medical team that performed the procedure after she ended up having to have partial amputations to both arms and legs. READ  

France and the EU
France to get €1b EU rebate as UK to pay more
France is owed €1 billion by the EU, in contrast to the UK, which has been told to pay €2.1 billion more. Photo: Luc Legay/Flickr

France to get €1b EU rebate as UK to pay more

Struggling France is owed a €1billion rebate from Brussels, it was revealed this week. It hasn’t gone down well on the other side of the English Channel where the UK has been told to hand over an extra €2.1billion. READ  

France to regain crown as top wine producer
France is set to regain its crown as world's top wine producer. Photo: Jean Louis Zimmerman/AFP

France to regain crown as top wine producer

With a bumper harvest predicted, France looks set to regain its crown as the world's biggest wine producer, according to estimates by an international wine body this week. READ  

IN IMAGES: When art and sex collide in France
Here's what it looks like when art and sex collide in France. Photo: AFP/German4/Quentin Evrard

IN IMAGES: When art and sex collide in France

Nowhere seems to blend sex and art quite like France does. And when the two worlds meet it often provokes a fair amount of controversy as well as hilarity. We've put together ten of the best examples in this gallery of images. READ  

French rail conductors test out Google Glass
France's rail company tried out the fancy bit of technology this week. Photo: Ted Eytan/Flickr

French rail conductors test out Google Glass

French train conductors donned Google Glass on Thursday as part of an experiment in using the fancy bit of technology and it may be popping up again somewhere else soon. READ  

Lille: French cops clash with English football fans
Riot police charge across the Grand Place in Lille on Thursday ahead of Everton's Europa League match in the city. Photo: AFP

Lille: French cops clash with English football fans

French riot police clashed with fans of English club Everton in Lille, northern France, on Thursday with baton-waving cops firing tear gas and charging at supporters, some of whom responded by hurling beer bottles. There have been reports police have fired rubber bullets at fans. READ  

Guest blog - French weddings
Five reasons why French weddings are the best
What's so great about French weddings? Photo: GirlinFlorence

Five reasons why French weddings are the best

Ever been to a wedding in France? This week's guest blogger Georgette Jupe tells us why, if you ever get invited to one, you'd be mad not to go, because French weddings are simply the best. READ  

France sends more cops to quell migrant unrest
More police are headed to Calais to contain the growing migrant crisis there. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

France sends more cops to quell migrant unrest

After more violence at camps filled with UK-bound migrants around the French Port of Calais, France's top cop is sending more police to try to quell the desperate and tense situation there. READ  

Opinion - EU migrants
'France's new anti-terror law is just anti-Roma'
People demonstrate against the French government's immigration policy, especially their deportation of the Roma minority from France in 2010. Photo: Georges Gobet/AFP

'France's new anti-terror law is just anti-Roma'

Human Rights campaigners and immigrants' support groups have sounded the alarm about the small print in France’s new anti-terrorism bill, which they say will allow Paris to stop the freedom of movement of EU nationals, specifically members of the Roma community. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
IN PICTURES: When sex and art collide in France
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
National
'Paris is a sexy city, its beauty is inspiring'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se